Saturday, January 03, 2009

NFL playoffs, Wild Card Weekend

Atlanta at Arizona (-2) - This is the no-brainer, right? I mean, the Falcons were clearly the better team, and the Cardinals are hosting only because they managed to win a division where the strongest "competition" was the 49ers. And everyone's going with the Falcons. Not me. I guess this is a contrarian pick, but I think that Arizona, playing at home with something to play for (as they haven't had for three weeks), and facing a rookie head coach and a rookie QB, is likely to actually win this one.

Indianapolis at San Diego (+1.5) - Again, we've got a wild card team with a substantially better regular season record visiting the tallest midget from a bad division. And the conventional wisdom is, again, that the visiting team wins. And I'm playing contrarian again. The Colts have had trouble with the Chargers, and while the Colts have won their last 9, the Chargers have had four straight "lose and you're out" games that they've won. I think that this is the game of the weekend, and the Colts come out on the losing end in Tony Dungy's last game.

Baltimore (-3) at Miami - I didn't like the Falcons with a rookie QB and rookie head coach. I do like the Ravens with a rookie QB and rookie head coach. I'm not certain what the difference is. It may be that there are a lot of Ravens with serious post-season experience, while the Dolphins are, like the Falcons, a year removed from epic disaster and playing a little over their heads. In any event, I don't think that the Dolphins can score enough against the Baltimore defense to win this.

Philadelphia (-3) at Minnesota - This is another excellent opportunity to go contrarian. And certainly, the Eagles have been inconsistent enough that it's easy to see a Vikings win in this one. The question is which Eagles team shows up. I don't think that Minnesota can handle Philly's "A" game, and the Vikings have been every bit as inconsistent. So, while it's very easy to believe that Minnesota could win this game, the likeliest scenario is Philadelphia visiting NY to play the Giants next week.

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